Synopsis by Hal Erickson
In the tradition of his previous "living histories" The Civil War and Baseball, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns assembled this fascinating two-part miniseries devoted to the life and career of legendary American humorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), better known as Mark Twain. The first two-hour episode chronicled Twain's life from his humble childhood in Hannibal, MO, through a variety of fascinating adventures and professions, climaxing with worldwide renown as an author, lecturer, and social commentator, and wealth and fame beyond imagination as the creator of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in 1885. Part Two detailed Twain's often tragic final decades, festooned with financial failures, disillusionment, and the deaths of those nearest and dearest to him. Keith David narrated, while Kevin Conway was heard as the voice of Mark Twain. The carefully chosen visuals were complemented with contemporary observations by such notables as William Styron, Russell Banks, Dick Gregory, and -- perhaps inevitably -- Hal Holbrook, who rose to stardom portraying Twain in the classic one-man show Mark Twain Tonight! (1967).